Soft skills are something you’ll need on your San Francisco pharmacy tech program externship.
A recent LinkedIn survey showed 59% of U.S. hiring managers found job candidates lacking in soft skills.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.
They’re also essential skills to have in the workplace.
We asked Sherri Cookson, Walgreens Store Manager, Area 48 (San Francisco) Recruitment Team Lead, and a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT), what soft skills are essential for a student to possess on a pharmacy tech program externship.
“Verbal and written communication skills must be at a high level, says,” Sherri Cookson. “Patients, providers, and third party personnel need to be able to understand and comprehend what is being communicated by our team members. Simple things like eye contact, pleasant tone of voice, speaking clearly and understandably, as well as a smile and thanking each and every person is essential to our business.”
On your externship, you don’t need to be an expert public speaker or a whiz with the written word; you just need to be able to communicate simply and plainly with work colleagues and customers in a way that’s understood.
Ability to Handle Pressure
Pressure is a familiar part of any healthcare workers day, and it’s no different for the pharmacy technician.
Problem prescriptions, challenging customers, a heavy workload, pharmacy rush hours — all of these can be stressors resulting in mounting pressure for the pharmacy technician.
There are many ways of handling pressure and remaining in control on your externship, such as having faith in your ability to do the job, remaining organized, or seeking help from pharmacy staff.
“Being able to remain calm and not over reacting during stressful situations is important,” says Sherri Cookson.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Patients, patient caregivers, friends and/or family of the patients, will visit the pharmacy to pick up or drop off a medication experiencing different situations,sometimes difficult and stressful.
“Having empathy for our patients and/or their caregivers is paramount to our (Walgreens) success.” says Sherri Cookson.
As a pharmacy technician, your ability to empathize and put put yourself in the position of the person you are helping is a major part of providing compassionate customer care.
For every one pharmacist working in a Walgreens pharmacy, there are two-to-three pharmacy technicians.
“Teamwork is needed each and every day,” says Sherri Cookson.
The pharmacist will have specific jobs to do just as the pharmacy technicians will have their own respective jobs.
Though the pharmacist and the pharmacy technician may seem to be working independently, they willin fact, be working as a team towards reaching the same outcome — serving pharmacy patients to improve their health and well-being.
Remember, pharmacy staff want to work with an extern who’ll be able to work well with them, as part of a team, with the same goals and values in mind.
“Another soft skill that an extern needs is adaptability,” says Sherri Cookson.
On your externship, ensure you’re flexible and open-minded. Don’t forget you’ll be working with people who have far more healthcare experience than you. Allow yourself to be accepting and thoughtful of new ways of working to learn and grow as a pharmacy technician.
Treat your externship as opportunity to not only practice what you learned in school, but also an opportunity to broaden your skill-set, adapting to the day-to-day needs of the pharmacy.
You Can Learn the Soft Skills You Need for Your San Francisco Pharmacy Tech Program Externship
How many of these 5 soft skills do you see yourself having as you prepare to go on your pharmacy tech program externship?
If you think you’re lacking in any of them, don’t be too concerned. The good news is soft skills can be learned.
If you’d like to improve any particular soft skill, you could ask for advice from your instructor, arrange a consultation with career services, take a course, volunteer at the weekends, practice the skill you’d like to improve at home, or, if you’re working part-time, at your present job.
Just know, these 5 soft skills are probably ones you’ve been adequately demonstrating for a long time already (during your school training or at previous jobs, for example) and, if not, they can be proficiently learned and applied for you to be a successful pharmacy technician extern.
BAMA is proud to partner with Walgreens to provide students with a 240-hour, on-the-job
clinical pharmacy technician externship at one of the largest drugstore chains in the US.